Biblical numerology refers to applying numerological values to the numbers in the Bible, typically to express meaning beyond the literal numerical value.

These numerological values often share associations with those found in the broader context of the Ancient Near East.

Numerological Values

The number “Three and a half” can signify an interrupted week or a symbolic week that halts halfway.

Notable in Daniel 12:7, “a time, two times, and half a time” symbolizes a period during which God’s faithful are oppressed by the fourth beast.

This period closely correlates with the desecration of the temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (167-164 BC). Jewish traditions often relate this number to the duration the Temple was subjected to pagan worship.

Variations such as 42 months or 1,260 days, equivalent to three and a half years, also hold significance in Biblical numerology.

The numbers “Four and ten” may symbolize totality, possibly inspired by the human base 10 numerical system rooted in our ten fingers and toes.

The number “Seven” often signifies perfection or completeness, potentially owing to the primary lunar phases lasting approximately 7 days each.

This is seen in the seven-day creation cycle in Genesis, and in religious items such as the seven lamps on the Temple Menorah.

The number Six, being one less than seven, is sometimes used to represent something incomplete or less than perfect.

Eight” in the Bible often signifies new life, resurrection, or a new beginning. Noteworthy examples include the eight people on Noah’s ark, and the eighth-day circumcision as per Genesis.

Twelve” is commonly used to denote completeness, often linked with God’s people. This comes from the twelve tribes of Israel and Jesus’s twelve disciples, mirroring the twelve lunar months in a year.

Forty” is typically associated with a generation or a full period. For instance, David and Solomon reigned for 40 years, Moses and the Hebrews spent 40 years in the desert, and Jesus was tempted for 40 days.

The number “Seventy” was widely used across the ancient Near East to symbolize a large group, typically of people, considered in its entirety.

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Apocalyptic Numerology

Old Testament

Ezekiel prophesies that New Jerusalem will possess twelve gates, each bearing the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel (Ezekiel 48:30-35).

In Daniel, the term “three and a half” signifies a disrupted seven, with the phrase “a time, two times, and half a time” symbolizing a period of persecution for God’s faithful by the fourth beast (Daniel 7:25; 12:7).

This value translates into other numerological variations, such as 42 months or 1,260 days, representing three and a half years.

Revelation

In Revelation, the concept of needing two or three witnesses to establish a testimony from Old Testament traditions is personified by the two witnesses who represent the church in its function as a witness.

The durations of three and a half years, 42 months, and 1,260 days are repeatedly mentioned in Revelation (Rev. 11:2-11; 12:4-6, 11; 13:5).

The number four is seen often, symbolizing the four living creatures near God’s throne and the four divisions of humanity, illustrating all of creation.

The earth is described as having four corners, depicting the cardinal directions, while New Jerusalem, symbolizing the new earth, is described as having four sides (Rev. 21:16).

The Beast’s number, six hundred sixty-six (666), is seen as nearly perfect (resembling the perfect number seven) but falls short, emphasizing its deceptive nature.

The number ‘seven‘ is prevalent throughout Revelation, featuring in the context of the seven churches, bowls, seals, trumpets, thunders, Spirits of God, stars, lampstands, eyes and horns of the Lamb of God, heads and diadems of the dragon, and heads of the beast.

The red dragon and the beast from the sea, each with ten horns, symbolize their assertion of absolute power.

The beast from the sea sports ten diadems on its ten horns (Revelation 13:1), signifying its claim to ultimate authority.

Multiples of ten enhance this concept of total control, with the millennium (10 x 10 x 10 or a thousand-year reign of Christ and the saints in Revelation 20:4) representing a complete period of rule unmarred by satanic interference.

Revelation uses the number twelve to signify the number of angels (Rev. 21:14), stars (12:1), and angels at the twelve gates, each gate inscribed with the names of the twelve apostles (Rev. 21:12).

The city wall measures 144 cubits (12 x 12) (Rev. 21:17) and is embellished with twelve jewels. The tree of life bears twelve kinds of fruit (Rev. 22:2). New Jerusalem measures 12,000 stadia per side (Rev. 21:16), offering a perfect dwelling place for all of God’s people.

The value is extended to 144,000 (12 x 12 x 1,000) in Revelation 7:4; 14:1,3, indicating the entirety of God’s Israel: the complete Christian community.

In the Torah

Ages of the Patriarchs

The Torah records the ages of numerous patriarchs, from Adam to Moses. Cumulatively, these ages total to 12,600.

The table below outlines these ages:

NrPatriarchAgeNrPatriarchAgeNrPatriarchAge
1Adam93010Noah95019Terah205
2Seth91211Shem60020Abraham175
3Enosh90512Arpachshad43821Isaac180
4Kenon91013Shelah43322Jacob147
5Mehalalel89514Eber46423Levi137
6Jared96215Peleg23924Kohath133
7Enoch36516Reu23925Amram137
8Methuselah96917Serug23026Moses120
9Lamech77718Nahor148
Total: 12,600

The total of 12,600 could be interpreted as a numerological variant of 1,260, a symbolic value found in apocalyptic theology but magnified by ten.

This total is speculated to have influenced the chosen ages of the patriarchs.

A similar application of the 12,600 schema appears in the Qumran-discovered War Scroll, where a 35-year period (equivalent to 12,600 days in the Jewish luni-solar 360-day year calendar) is described as the time during which “the Sons of Light shall fight against the Sons of Darkness in the final days.”

The Flood Narrative

The flood narrative employs significant numbers like seven and forty recurrently. Instances of events unfolding over seven days (Gen. 7:4, 10; 8:10, 12) and the mention of seven pairs of clean animals (Gen. 7:2-3) are notable.

The account also includes a forty-day and forty-night period of flooding.

The flood account possibly includes words that are multiples of seven (in the flood pericope, Gen. 6:9-917). For example, “God” communicates with “Noah” seven times, the Hebrew term for “flesh” is noted fourteen times (7 x 2), “water” is cited twenty-one times, and “Noah” is mentioned thirty-five times.

However, determining whether these occurrences are authorial intent or coincidence is challenging.

Dates and Reigns

The biblical texts frequently use “forty years” as a measure of time, often symbolizing a generation.

For instance, 1 Chronicles 5:30-36 mentions twelve generations from the Exodus to the construction of Solomon’s Temple.

Using forty years as a generation, this span would equate to four hundred and eighty years, which corresponds to the period between the Exodus and the construction of Solomon’s Temple as stated in 1 Kings 6:1.

This chronology seems to rely on the numerical symbolism of a generation’s length.

The number forty is recurrent in biblical texts: the Israelites’ wanderings in the wilderness and Moses’ life each spanned forty years, and both David and Solomon reigned for forty years.

Jesus also spent forty days in the wilderness.

Army Sizes

The Books of Chronicles creatively use large numbers, often to depict the relationships between God and the monarchs.

It mentions the number of soldiers in the armies of seven Judean kings: Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Amaziah, Uzziah, and Ahaz.

The total number of soldiers in the army units of these kings is represented in the table below:

LeaderArmy SizeReference
David1,570,0001 Chronicles 21:5
Jeroboam (loss)500,0002 Chronicles 13:17
Rehoboam180,0002 Chronicles 11:1, cf. 1 Kings 12:21
Abijah400,0002 Chronicles 13:3
Jeroboam800,0002 Chronicles 13:3
Asa580,0002 Chronicles 14:8
Jehoshaphat1,160,0002 Chronicles 17:14-18
Amaziah300,0002 Chronicles 25:5
Uzziah307,5002 Chronicles 26:12-13
Ahaz180,0002 Chronicles 28:6
Zerah the Ethiopian1,000,0002 Chronicles 14:9

It’s worth noting that Chronicles isn’t the only biblical text listing large army sizes.

In Judges, the Midianites lost 120,000 men in battle (Judg. 8:10), and the Israelites commanded over 400,000 men (Judg. 20:2, 17).

Saul is recorded commanding 330,000 men in Samuel (1 Sam. 11:8). Despite these figures, these texts do not appear to employ numbers creatively as Chronicles does.

Interestingly, 2 Samuel 24:9 records different figures for David’s army compared to Chronicles: 1,300,000 men (800,000 from Israel and 500,000 from Judah).

Josephus’ analysis also totals 1,300,000 men, but with a different distribution: 900,000 from Israel and 400,000 from Judah.

Gematria in the Bible

The concept of gematria, where each Hebrew letter corresponds to a number, has intrigued scholars and has been suggested to be present in various places within the Hebrew Bible.

In the New Testament, gematria appears to manifest itself in at least two instances.

The first instance, found in John 21:11, recounts a miraculous haul of 153 fish, a number seen as derived from gematria found in Ezekiel 47.

The association of this particular gematria in John 21:11 is linked to the Dead Sea Scrolls (specifically 4Q252), which uses the same numerical interpretation from Ezekiel 47 to note Noah’s arrival on Mount Ararat on the 153rd day post the onset of the flood.

Another instance is seen in the Book of Revelation, where the number of the beast is denoted as “666″, which equates to the Greek numerical representation of “Nero Caesar,” a Roman emperor notorious for his persecution of early Christians.

Conversely, this usage could also be tied to the account of Solomon’s income of 666 talents of gold as noted in 1 Kings 10:14.

Additional Examples

Several instances of the number 42 or periods equal to 3.5 years (42 months) are seen throughout biblical text. For instance, the Israelites’ journey from Egypt to the Promised Land encompassed 42 stages, as recorded in Numbers 33.

Additionally, the genealogy from Abraham to Jesus spanned 42 generations, according to Matthew 1:17.

The reigns of the initial monarchs of Israel, Saul and his son Ishbaal (2 years each), and David and Solomon (40 years each), total 42 years, suggesting a significant correlation.

The number seventy appears 52 times in various contexts in the Old Testament.

The uses range from descriptions of palm trees and weights to the measurement of time and counts of people. For instance, it refers to the descendants of Jacob and elders of Israel, as well as submissive kings and men struck by God.

In Judges 12:14, it accounts for the forty sons and thirty grandsons of Abdon.

Usage of this number also extends to non-biblical literature of the ancient Near East, especially in Ugaritic texts relating to Baal.

Some scholars also suggest numerology might play a part in biblical poetry, such as in the Psalms.

My Final Thoughts on Numerology in Biblical Texts

After extensive review and contemplation on the role of numerology in the Bible, it becomes increasingly apparent that numbers hold a significant role beyond their simple numerical values.

Numbers like forty, seven, twelve, and seventy, among others, repeatedly make their appearance, signifying important events, epochs, and concepts.

The usage of numbers extends beyond a mere count or measure.

They often serve as symbolic markers, imbuing the narrative with an additional layer of meaning.

This symbolic and even theological function of numbers is not a mere coincidence but appears to be a deliberate element of the text, aiding in the conveyance of messages both obvious and subtle.

A deeper exploration into numerology also presents the intriguing possibility of gematria, where numbers are used to represent letters, enabling a numerical interpretation of words and names.

This method adds a complex dimension to Biblical interpretation, suggesting levels of significance that might otherwise be overlooked.

Moreover, the distinct patterns involving numbers and their recurrences across different narratives, like those relating to the reigns of kings or the size of armies, underpin the theory of their intentional usage.

It helps create a narrative fabric that is interwoven with consistent numerological threads.

However, while these observations provide compelling insights, it’s crucial to approach them with measured curiosity.

These numerical patterns can be subject to interpretation, and it can be challenging to distinguish between deliberate authorial intent and mere coincidence.

As such, a nuanced understanding is needed when considering numerology as a tool for biblical interpretation.

All in all, the study of numerology in biblical texts opens a fascinating window into the mind of the authors and their culture, providing a richer understanding of these ancient texts.

The numbers serve as simple tallies or measures and perform an intricate dance of symbolism and meaning, intertwining with the narratives to bring depth and complexity to these profound and influential stories.

Until next time,

Johanna <3 🙂

johanna_augusta

Johanna Aúgusta, is the founder of MinistryofNumerology.com and holds a Master’s in Philosophy from the University of Toronto. With over 20 years of experience in Numerology, she has conducted more than 1,000 1-on-1 consultations and is based in Werribee, Victoria, Australia. Passionate about Numerology, she provides actionable insights to help people navigate their life paths. She has been featured in renowned publications such as FoxNews.com and Womansday.com. Johanna is committed to ethical practices, blending ancient numerological wisdom with modern lifestyles.